Supreme Court Backs Whistleblower Protections
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the First Amendment protects public employees from job retaliation when they testify in court about official corruption. In a unanimous decision, the court decided in favor of Edward Lane, a former Alabama community college official who says he was fired after testifying at the criminal fraud trial of a state lawmaker.
Lower courts had ruled against Lane, finding that he was testifying as a college employee, not as a citizen. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Lane’s testimony was constitutionally protected because he was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern – even if it covered facts learned at work.
Emily Bazelon, legal affairs editor at Slate, joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss that opinion. She also weighs in on the court’s ruling tossing out an Australian company’s patents for business software in a closely watched case that offers new guidance on the standards for awarding patents.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
- Emily Bazelon, senior editor for Slate magazine and senior research fellow at Yale Law School. She tweets @emilybazelon.